A Travellerspoint blog

Belem to Manaus

5 nights on the Amazon!

sunny 35 °C
View Honeymoon! on Steve-Kay's travel map.

When we got to Belem we were looking forward to getting to a nice hostel and having a long shower, unfortunately the hostel was pretty basic and the shower was FREEZING....but still, it was nice to be off that bus!

We decided to economise by washing all our stuff by hand (washing is dearer than you'd think), so we bought some powder and used the hostels washboard sink. It was quite a novelty to us as we'd never done it before so we thought it'd be fun - it wasn't. It took us AGES in the sweltering heat and once we'd hung it all out on the line it started pouring with rain (as it does there every afternoon apparently) - how did anyone cope before washing machines and tumble dryers?!

Anyway........

We went down to the dock to check out the boat that was leaving for Manaus the next day and, after MUCH badgering, they let Steve on to see it (wouldn't let me on for some reason!). We were since told that they never let people aboard to have a look but I think Steve was driving them so mad that they eventually gave in!

We cheated a bit and didn't travel how most of the locals (and backpackers) do, even though it would've saved us a fair few quid. We didn't think we could handle 5 nights of sleeping in a hammock in very close quarters....

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So we booked ourselves an ensuite cabin with aircon which was lovely because the temperature out on deck was about 35 - 40 degrees each day!

Our freshly painted cabin (or suite as they called it)....

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We'd heard that the journey could be a bit monotonous because you don't really get to see any of the animals in the jungle - mainly due to the fact that our boat is SO loud, blaring out 'Forro' music from 7.30 am till long after we'd gone to sleep!! It was a long time to spend sitting around all day but we really enjoyed it because there were so many things to see along the way - just the river in general, different people, their houses, lots of birds and even a few dolphins.

On the first day we saw lots of kids, aged from about 5 upwards, lined up along the river in little wooden canoes waiting for our boat to come along....

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Some of them were waiting for the people on the boat to throw stuff over for them. One of the locals had loads of carrier bags full of kids clothes that he threw over which was great. We felt terrible because we hadn't realised that this would happen so we didn't really have much to give them which was a shame.

Some of the other kids rowed up very close to the boat (as it was still moving) and with a lot of skill and courage, threw a big metal hook onto the side of the boat and tied their canoe on. They then climbed aboard with their stuff to sell, shrimps, fruit etc. As you can see from this photo below, the waves created by our boat were pretty rough and they were really thrown about in their little canoes - not that they seemed to mind but I was a nervous wreck! It was amazing to see, especially considering how little they are.

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The boat itself was nice, the staff were really lovely and one woman used to come and call us before each meal was being served (we didn't overly appreciate the brekkie call at 6am though!). We'd been warned that the food could be a bit dodgy and we'd stocked up on crisps and biscuits to keep us going but it turned out to be really tasty. The people who were staying in cabins (about 10 at most) had a separate eating area from the people staying in hammocks which felt a bit embarrassing and just plain wrong really! The food though (other than breakfast which was included in the price) was the same for everyone - and at about £1.50 a meal it was brilliant.

We spent most of the time just chilling in the sunshine and watching the Amazon go by....

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The sunrises and sunsets were stunning....

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We stopped quite a few times on the way, to drop off and load on people and an incredible amount of cargo. We only got off once, at Santarem which is a big town about halfway between Belem and Manaus. This is just outside Santarem where the Amazon River (the brown one) runs alongside the Tapajós River (the blue one) for several kilometres without merging (this is caused by their different temperatures).

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It was a great experience and it was almost a shame to leave the boat when we arrived at Manaus!

Posted by Steve-Kay 15:22 Archived in Brazil Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Petropolis, Buzios & Itacoatiara

.....and a 52 hour bus ride from Rio to Belem!

semi-overcast 30 °C
View Honeymoon! on Steve-Kay's travel map.

After we said a sad goodbye to Dean and Kam, the rest of us picked up our hire car and Pa drove us up and around the winding mountains to Petropolis (the former Imperial Capital).

The town is lovely and very scenic with canals running through it and mountains all around.

We found a great hotel overlooking a lake and a stunning old Colonial building...

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We spent a couple of days here chilling around the pool and seeing the sights before heading onto Buzios a couple of hours up the coast.

Bumpy Buzios as we called it because every road has unmarked and sporadic speed bumps that you can only see when you're just about to go over them, which made the journeys pretty funny! It's on a peninsula and we spent some time seeing as many of the 17 beaches as we could - not an easy task as there are hardly any road signs and many are along dirt tracks.

This is the view from a look out point at one of the bays...

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When we left Buzios we headed back along the coast in the direction of Rio looking for somewhere to stop for a night or two but everywhere was pretty deserted. We ended up getting all the way to Niteroi which is where the bridge goes into Rio. We didn't have any ideas about where to stay so we just headed for one of the beaches (in the chaotic rush-hour traffic!), but couldn't find a single hotel once we'd got there. We were at a total loss so we stopped and asked some police if they knew of a hotel nearby. One of them drove off to look for one for us, then came back and gave us a police escort to it! It turned out to be a stunning boutique hotel (far too expensive for us backpackers but we decided to treat ourselves with some birthday money I'd got!). The owners made us feel like we were the only people there and we loved it so much we stayed 2 nights enjoying the pool, steam room, garden, food etc!

The breakfast was huge....

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Enjoying a nice glass of wine on my hammock....

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It was a perfect way to end our trip with Mum & Dad before dragging ourselves back to the real backpacker lifestyle!

We decided that after all of our swanning around in expensive hotels we would do a hardcore bus journey all the way to Belem in the North of Brazil. It was about 2000 miles and FIFTY TWO hours! It wasn't actually too bad, we stopped a lot along the way at some nice per-kilo restaurants (where you pay for your food by the weight) and we saw some interesting towns along the way ....

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Plus I was too sad after Mum and Dad left to do anything more than watch films and sleep anyway!

Posted by Steve-Kay 16:21 Archived in Brazil Tagged luxury_travel Comments (0)

Rio de Janeiro!

And then there were 6.....

sunny 30 °C
View Honeymoon! on Steve-Kay's travel map.

We arrived in Rio after what seemed like a reeaaally long journey but think it was just because we were so excited to be getting there!

The accomodation in Rio is really expensive and seeing as we only needed one night we decided to get a cheapo bed in a dorm room - had the top bunks of a 3-tiered bunk bed in the tiniest room you could ever possibly fit 9 people in! It was pretty grim so we just went straight out for a wander, saw Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, which were stunning obviously! Then we found a bar which served red wine by the cup and sat watching football with the locals till we were drunk enough to face our room!!

Got up early the next morning (with a hangover) and rushed to meet Mum, Dad, Dean and Kam at the apartment they'd booked for us all. It was fantastic to see everyone and finally all be together in Rio like we'd been talking about for the last year! The apartment was wicked, about 30 seconds walk from Copacabana which we could see from our windows and it was close to loads of great restaurants and shops.

This is all of us at the Copacabana Fort, which separates Copacabana beach from Ipanema....

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For the remaining 9 days we couldn't get the songs 'Girl from Ipanema' or 'Copacabana' out of our heads (especially Pa!) !!!!

Dean and I (Steve) spent most of the first week trying to decide when to go and check out the Maracana stadium. We found out that a local side, Fluminese, were due to play Boca Juniors (from Buenos Aires, Argentina) in the semi-final of the Copa Libertadores (Champions League equivalent) and decided we had to go for it - despite some wide-ranging safety warnings! Having been given a quote of 200Rs each (about £63) for a ticket, transport and a guide, we got a deal for 80Rs (£25) the day before the game and were over the moon! We arrived at the ground at 8......late you may think, but the game didn't kick off until 10! The surrounding streets were already packed and when we got in the ground the atmosphere was already electric. The photos below were over an hour BEFORE kick-off....

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We got seats just below the away fans which made the occasion all the more interesting but we felt safe having been happily accepted by the local fans. So, with the beers flowing, and having learnt a few of their songs we really didn't care too much if the game ever started!! When it did, it was a great game, with Fluminese coming back from 1 down to win 3-1. It was an incredible night from start to finish.....to think we may have missed it!?!?!??!?!

We waited for a nice clear day before we went up to see the Christ the Redeemer statue and it was definitely worth it because the view was fantastic from up there.....

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And the statue itself was amazing to see, it looks quite small from the ground but it's absolutely huge when you get up there!

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My (Kay's) birthday was FANTASTIC (thanks for all my lovely pressies!).......Mum and I went to the hairdressers for a bit of a pamper, I just about made myself understood and they did a good job (well we thought so) and we even got a big cuddle when we tipped them - we didn't think it was that generous at tip but maybe Brazilians don't tip hairdressers?!!

In the afternoon we went to Sugarloaf Mountain which was incredible. You get up there by cable car and on the first level there were lots of cute little monkeys running around. Even at this stage we thought the view was great but then we got up to the top level for sunset and WOW, what a gorgeous city it is!

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After the sun had gone most of the people left but we stayed and sat drinking Caipirinhas as the lights went on around Rio.

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When we finally managed to tear ourselves away (a little merry at this stage I must say), we went for dinner at my favourite Churrascaria where the waiters come to the table and carve the (unbelievably tasty) meat straight onto your plate.

On our last night we had a lovely meal on Copacabana, a really nice end to a great 10 days!

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Posted by Steve-Kay 11:18 Archived in Brazil Tagged luxury_travel Comments (0)

Ilha Grande

sunny 30 °C
View Honeymoon! on Steve-Kay's travel map.

After some deliberation we hopped on a bus and a boat to Ilha Grande. The island is beautiful, there are no cars allowed on it so it was lovely and peaceful. The first thing we did was go to the beach and have a drink watching the sunset...

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The next day we caught a boat to Praia Lopez Mendez, actually it dropped us a 20 minute walk away which I thought was a bit of a cheek but on the way back we saw lots of little monkeys so I'll let them off!

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Plus the beach was amazing, white sand and gorgeous views around.

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Next stop RIO DE JANEIRO (with company) !!!

Posted by Steve-Kay 06:45 Archived in Brazil Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Paraty

sunny 30 °C
View Honeymoon! on Steve-Kay's travel map.

Had the worst journey of our trip so far - 2 buses from Praia Armação to Florianopolis bus station, an overnight 11 hour bus to Sao Paulo (the amount of traffic there is unbelievable!), a 6 hour bus to Paraty where we had lunch while waiting for another bus which took us an hour through the jungle on a bumpy road to a nearby village that we had planned to stay in but soon realised there were no hostels/hotels so we then had to get back on the bus to Paraty - 6 buses and 24 hours, POXY!!

ANYWAY.....We got showered and dressed up and went straight out to explore. Paraty turned out to be faaaaantastic! The historical quarter is blocked off to traffic and the cobblestone streets are lined with restaurants and bars playing live music. There was a Brazilian festival while we were there so the town was really buzzing and the atmosphere was great.

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There are 65 islands surrounding Paraty and we went on a fantastic boat trip to see a few of them and do some snorkelling.

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We went to an all-you-can-eat-and-drink bbq and had our first Caipirinha....and second and third etc etc! Stayed there till 3am with the owner, playing pool and drinking homemade Cachaça (the national drink used to make the Caipirinha cocktail)! The next day we crawled out of bed at about 2pm and hired a canoe to look around the bay.

Paraty and the nearby town of Trindade were lovely. This is the view of the river in Paraty.....

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Posted by Steve-Kay 05:53 Archived in Brazil Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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